Shōbu by Smirk & Laughter Games
Playtime: ~20 minutes
Perfect for: Duos who appreciate classic abstract games of strategically outplaying your opponent.
Shōbu is a deceptively simple game of moving rocks. To begin Shōbu, 2 players place four wooden tiles (two of two colors) out. Then then each place 8 stones of their color on the board, along with a rope that separates each player’s side.
On a turn, a player moves a stone on one of their home boards (the boards closest to them) up to two spaces in any direction. That player must then make a mirror move with one of their additional stones on a board of a different color. For this move, players may bump and slide opponents’ rocks across and off the board. When a player has successfully pushed all the rocks of an opposing color off any of the boards, they win.
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What works in Shōbu is the fantastic strategy element leveraging the old adage: simple to learn, difficult to master. Games are incredibly quick but can also get very deep as players try to plan their moves out in a manner that balances offense and defense (zero luck involved). In an age where tabletop games have gotten bigger and grander, there’s something delightfully refreshing about Shōbu: a new addition to the gaming world that feels like it has endured for centuries.
Players seeking a flashy game with a myriad of rules and intricacies may not enjoy Shōbu as much as others. Shōbu is the game you play on the porch as the sun goes down, or by the fire with your grandparents—this is not for individuals wanting something with a little more heft.
Shōbu is an exceptional game for all ages; a modern classic—highest of recommendations.
Recommended if you like: Chess, Go, Checkers